By Jessica Mathews /

The City of Fenton has new COVID-19 safety protocols in effect.

Anyone entering any city-owned building such as City Hall or the Police or Fire Departments will now be required to wear a mask. That includes board and commission members and the general public.

The change was approved at Monday’s City Council meeting in a 6-1 vote, with member David McDermott opposed. The Tri-County Times reports that McDermott said he wasn’t anti-mask but preferred to follow guidelines set forth by the CDC and not create additional mandates. He stated several council peers prefer masks, so he wears one at meetings, and it’s about common courtesy.

A COVID-19 Response Plan was adopted by Council in spring of 2020.

A memo from City Manager Lynn Markland stated that throughout the pandemic, circumstances and information have changed from time to time. He noted there are several boards and commissions with many community volunteers, some of which have had a hard time meeting due to changes to the Open Meetings Act that limit remote participation. Markland said they have several community members that have expressed concerns about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant and are not yet willing to attend meetings. In addition, he said the City has had some employees out of work due to infections or exposure.

Markland said they’ve been fortunate to not have an outbreak that would impact an entire department – which he attributed to the precautions and structural changes made to buildings and masking. Markland said the City can "ill afford" to have an outbreak of a large part of any department”. Since all departments have a small number of employees, Markland said it would not take a large number to be out at the same time to have an impact on critical services the City provides such as police, fire, snow removal and water/sewer repairs.

The new masking requirement will be in effect for the next 90-days – unless Council takes additional action.